New Nominee for IMF Chief Looks Set for Office

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German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder made his second pitch at putting one of his countrymen at the helm of the IMF on Tuesday, nominating a former Helmut Kohl aide to the post vacated by Frenchman Michel Camdessus. Last month Schroeder convinced his European neighbors that it was Germany's turn to head a global ruling body, and received reluctant approval for his first choice for IMF chief, Caio Koch-Weser. But that choice was rejected by the Clinton administration, which complained that Koch-Weser was too much of a lightweight to run the powerful fund. In addition, Koch-Weser had caused concern in Washington by making it plain that he would stick to European Union demands that the IMF play a long-term role in improving economic conditions rather than the more restricted crisis management function favored by the United States.

Schroeder Tuesday showed that he's still determined to have a German head the fund by nominating Horst Koehler, who's worked in the opposition Christian Democratic party. "The Germans were rebuffed in the first round," notes TIME financial correspondent Adam Zagorin. "So they've made an effort in this second round to produce a candidate who will not be rejected."

It seems there is general backing for Schroeder's new choice. On Tuesday the European Union supported Koehler for the position, which has traditionally been held by a European (the U.S., meanwhile, gets to choose the head of the World Bank). It also seems unlikely that Schroeder would risk presenting another nominee without first having received indications from the U.S. that the candidate would be acceptable. When the U.S. was holding out against Koch-Weser, a consortium of Arab and African nations championed the IMF's deputy, American Stanley Fischer. It raised speculation that the U.S., which has the largest vote of any nation in selecting the IMF chief, was angling to have an American in the office. But Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said Tuesday that there needs to be "global consensus" on who the next IMF head is — an indication that the U.S. will vote for the European.